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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Cheat Smart - Coconut Prawn Curry and Red Rice

I'm all for a little cheating.
But only on our diets! :)
In all other aspects of life, I would only ever advocate the path of inordinate virtuousness. For, you see, I am the personification of inordinate virtue.
Ha.

No, but seriously, coming back to food and nutrition, no matter how disciplined we might be, we all need to cheat every now and then to keep our sanity - I certainly do!
So, odd as it seems, it’s actually easier to stick to a healthy eating plan if you cut yourself a bit of slack every now and then.

I would only ask before you cheat, that you do two things:
1) That you recognise you are cheating when you're cheating
2) That you cheat for something that's worth it

With regards to my first point, it's simply being aware that you are cheating. In other words, recognise, acknowledge and accept that you are using up your brownie points (pun not intended!)  - so don’t eat your treat mindlessly in front of the TV or computer. Unfortunately, the lives we all seem to lead don't embrace eating and enjoying our food; we are obligated almost, to try and be productive at all times.

Don't be.
Rebel a little.

Have you heard that wonderful song by Ottis Redding - "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay"?
It goes like this:
"I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh
I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time"

I love these words. They sound so dreamy and faraway. And so hopelessly impractical. Which is why I love these words. Because being productive 24/7 is highly overrated.

So - and really this is true for every time you put food in your mouth, and especially so for cheat meals -  take your time, sit down, focus on your food and thoroughly enjoy every last bit.

With regards to my second point - make it count. Cheat smart.
And this really depends on you individually.
Because there's a big difference between enjoying your favourite foods once in a while and eating everything you adore. The key to maintaining some degree of control, is deciding what you want, how much you want, and then soldiering towards it in its most intense and tasty form.

See, for me, willpower is like a muscle - it can be trained. And I've trained myself over the years that even when I want to cheat, I will rarely crave, say a donut. Or french fries. I just won't. And you will see that as your body becomes healthier - and cleaner - even the foods that you cheat with will become less and less unhealthy. Your body, over time, will learn this. Instinctively. Effortlessly.

So instead of grabbing a a large bagel with your coffee as your treat and distractedly downing hundreds of doughy calories, splurge on something worth savoring. Something you love.

For me, because I don't have a sweet tooth, I crave savoury hits of flavour - the more complex the better. This is the kind of stuff that's got hints of sweet and hints of sour and hints of heat and hints of umami (but naturally) all packaged together beautifully into one delicious dish.

I'm going today for Coconut Prawn Curry and Red Rice, a food that's admittedly not top of the list on the naughty spectrum, but rice (even if its blushing) is still carbs and my prawn curry would not taste half as good without the liberal amounts of (high calorie) coconut milk I put it in. So, I am still cheating - I'm just cheating smart.

First things first, what is red rice?
Red rice, for the uninitiated, is generally unhulled or partially hulled rice which has a red husk. It's distinctive for it's nutty flavor, and as the germ of the rice is left intact, it has high nutritional value relative to other carbs. Ironically, it is much cheaper than regular white rice. When I let myself drift back, years and years ago to my childhood days in Madras, it was always the household help who would eat red rice. Unbeknownst to my mother, I'd often barely touch the lunch my parents and I were served on the dining table, and then I'd sneak in to the kitchen afterwards, while they were eating, sitting cross legged on the floor on large stainless steel plates and ask for their rice. Even then, within the inner workings of my 4-year old brain, I had it figured out that what they were eating was far, far tastier than what we were being served.

Now Goan prawn curry (not totally confined to Goa as it does travel up the konkan coast to Mangalore, albeit with a few variations) for those who haven't tried it before - is a revelation. 
Plump, juicy, tender prawns in a coconut rich, hot and sour curry is simply glorious. Try it, I assure you, you will become quite addicted.

Here's what you need:
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 250g raw prawns, peeled and deveined
- 1 onion, finely chopped

- 1 tbsp ginger, grated or cut finely
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 dry kashmiri red chilies
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 5-6 curry leaves (optional)
- 3 tbsp tamarind pulp or 1 raw mango chopped length wise into 2 pieces or 3 tbsp tomato paste (whatever you have handy)
- 400ml can full fat coconut milk
- 2 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste



Here's how you do it:
Marinate prawns with little salt and set aside.
Heat the oil and once hot, fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli for 5 mins until starting to soften. Next add in your sour ingredient - the raw mango or tamarind paste or tomato paste, sugar and salt and mix well. Stir in the prawns and cook until the prawns turn pink. Finally, turn the heat down, add in the coconut milk and simmer for 2 mins on low heat.

I do my tadka separately. I fry the curry leaves and red chillies, in hot oil until sizzling and aromatic, then I stir it into the finished dish: to me, this quick and simple final touch really lifts the flavours. 

I cook the red rice the exact same way I cook regular white rice. I use a little olive oil to soften the rice, because the husk makes it naturally tougher. So, first I rinse the rice in water. Then I heat some oil in a pot, add in the rice and stir for 2 minutes. I add water and bring the whole pot to a boil. Then, I lower the heat, cover the pot and cook until liquid is fully absorbed. 

To serve, spoon the prawn curry - decadently rich, piping hot, and aromatic - over the rice and garnish with some coriander leaves.

Then devour it. All by yourself.
Because you deserve it.
Because you're worth it.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Is Carb Free a Fad?


No, No and No.
I want to shout it from the rooftops.

First things first: Wiki's definition of a fad: "A fad is any form of behaviour that develops among a large population and is collectively followed enthusiastically for a period of time, generally as a result of the behavior being perceived as popular by one's peers or being deemed "cool" by social media. A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behaviour will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone"

And so here is my opinion, controversial as it might seem: The carb free diet is not a fad. And - wait for it - neither was the fat free diet.

Because - and herein lies the importance of this debate - both schools of thought were based not on what was deemed "cool" by popular media - this isn't after all about dressing norm core - they were grounded on significant medical and scientific research prevailing at the time. This is about nutrition, well-being and the health of our bodies and minds - a topic, I would imagine, of significant and far reaching consequence.

This isn't to say, by the way, that the fat-free diet was erroneous. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the “war” on fat was the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.  To condense a long and complex topic into a few sentences isn't easy, but it was faith in science that led physicians and patients to embrace the low-fat diet. Scientific studies dating from the late 1940s showed a correlation between high-fat diets and high-cholesterol levels, suggesting that a low-fat diet might prevent heart disease. By the 1960s, the low-fat diet began to be touted not just for high-risk heart patients, but as good for the general population. After 1980, the low-fat approach became an ideology, promoted by medical practitioners, the government, the food industry, and the popular media.  Ironically, in the same decades that "low-fat" assumed ideological status, we were all getting fatter, obesity became not only a concept, but a global concern. And yet, the low-fat ideology had such a hold on us that skeptics were dismissed. Only recently has evidence of a paradigm shift begun to surface, largely reflecting newly discovered scientific knowledge about fats.

But to call the fat-free era a fad simply because it was wrong, is to disbelieve in the very notion of progress, the advancement of medical science, and the fact that for every minute we live, we discover something new, and that we make assumptions based on what we know and hold them to be true - until they are disproved.

Yes, we all believed the earth was flat until the day we discovered it wasn't.

And while it is easy to look back with the benefit of hindsight and criticise the proponents of the fat free era, I'd cut them some slack. After all, it does seem intuitive that fat makes you fat. 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, while 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. What we didn't know then, that we know now is that obesity is down not just to calories, but to the quality of those calories. And about how fat and carbs get used in our body.

It works like this: Refined carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Your body then produces extra insulin to bring your blood sugar down. Insulin is a fat storage hormone. With more insulin circulating around in your bloodstream, your body converts the carbohydrates to fat. And so, when we eat more carbohydrates than we burn for energy, our body ends up storing them as fat - in all the problem areas that you and I already know - on your thighs, your stomach, your hips. 

There's another factor at play here. If you eat a lot of carbs, you burn those carbs for energy and need a steady supply of carbs to keep your energy up. Relying on carbs for energy, you body doesn't have the need to access and burn your stored fat. You become a "sugar-burner."  On the other hand, when you eat less carbs, you become a "fat-burner." The body first goes for carbs to burn for energy and once it has depleted that source, it turns to access and burn stored body fat. Aha.

Before I finish up with this post, I will disclaim myself from the term "carb free" by saying that I am using it, not literally, but for ease of explanation. By carb free, I don't not mean all carbs are bad. All carbs cannot - by definition - be bad, simply because all carbs are not the same. There are superior carbs, there are acceptable carbs, and then there are carbs that are plain evil. I will get to these in detail as we go along, but I am a big advocate of complex carbs like barley, whole oats, bulgur, millet, quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, lentils, beans and buckwheat. These satisfy our appetite, so we tend to eat less. It is refined carbohydrate foods that tend to cause the insulin spike that make us more hungry, and so we tend to eat more.

I also have to say what any responsible dispenser of weight and nutrition advice should say: what works for me may not work for you. Our bodies are not only the most intricate pieces of machinery that exist on this earth, but they are all different, and there are many complex metabolic processes at play - as with anything in life, one size rarely fits all.

But I believe for many people, if you reduce the refined carbohydrates in your diet -- white bread, sugar, pasta, muffins, breakfast cereal, crisps, sweets, and sweetened drinks -- and add more healthy fats -- nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines, olives, olive oil, grass fed meats -- you'll likely lose some weight, stop the cycle of ravenous hunger, feel more satiated, have more energy and more stable blood sugars, and generally lead a healthier and higher quality life.

Here's what I ate for lunch today: Oregano, paprika and tomato chicken skewers with a side of rocket and broccoli and a dollop of full fat, unsweetened natural yogurt.

Here's what you need:

1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove
3 tbsp virgin olive oil
8 chicken tenderloins 
4 cups rocket (or other green leaf salad) + lemon and olive oil to dress
Few handful broccoli heads
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Some bamboo skewers (optional, you can simply cut the chicken into strips instead)

Here's how you do it:

Skewer the chicken tenderloins onto bamboo sticks and marinate with a mixture of oregano, paprika, chopped garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside for about 20-30 minutes or more if you can, the longer the better. 

Cook chicken skewers or strips in the oven or on the stove top for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through and slightly charred. Arrange rocket leaves and broccoli on a plate and lay the chicken skewers over them. Drizzle with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, dip into the yogurt and Voila!

It's not a fad, it's not a diet. It's a flavourful, natural, unrefined, generous portion of food that not only tastes great, but leaves you feeling great.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Invest - in a Nutribullet (and in yourself)


Disclaimer:
* I own a Nutribullet
* I have endorsed products before
* This isn't one of them i.e. this blogpost is not sponsored by Nutribullet

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Right, so following on from my last post on fried eggs and veggies - which I know, when you're running out the door, so late for work that you've got your heels in your hands and your keys in your mouth, really wouldn't be high up on your list of priorities. And so I promised to do a quick, healthy, on-the-go breakfast, and since I always keep my promises (I'm nice like that), here we are.

Now, if available to you where you live, please could you all just buy yourself a Nutribullet?
It's on Amazon right here
And ok, it's not exactly cheap, but it won't break the bank either, so please humour me a second. And let's all just do some Maths.
Didja hear me, folks?
Let's all do some Maths, I said.
Which is revolutionary, really because never, in a million years did I ever expect to use that line - Maths makes me shudder see. I'm the one who the Maths teacher always hated. Which is OK. Because my English teachers always liked me. Especially that one at University who looked like he spent his days writing ballads for god knows whom (OWU people, you with me here?!) and I'd always rather have it that way.

Anyway, sorry got a bit distracted there. Though if you went to University with me, you'd know exactly why. In fact you'd be grinning right now. And Facebooking the said Professor to see who he ended up writing those ballads for.  I have...(and she's prettier than me. Damn.)

Annywaay...

Back to Maths and the cost of the Nutribullet. So if you amortise (yes, yes, not just Maths, but complex Maths) the cost of this "thing" over all the many, many years of breakfasts and healthy snacking you will get out of it, and (intangibly) by the tremendous benefit it will do to your physical and mental wellbeing - trust me when I say it's worth every last penny.

See, Crush charge an average of £5  per glass of what the Nutribullet would do for you. 20 days and you've recovered your investment. Bam.

(I mean, are you proud of me?)
(That's some good Maths, huh?)

Incidentally, Juice Tonic, straight out of California and into the heart of Soho charge £5.50, Pure (with branches all over London) charges £4'ish and Wild Juicery in Covent Garden charge £4.80.

OK, so there you go. It's worth it.
Absolutely, without the shadow of a doubt, worth it.

On a related note - for those of you who know me, you know I stand relatively unmatched when it comes to cynicism - I detest false marketing and I try to resist the temptation to fall headlong for the
next faddy product that seems all the rage. This one isn't a gimmick, I promise you. I've tried and tested the Nutribullet with as much skepticism as I could muster (dare I say I almost wanted it to fail) - and can unreservedly say that this thing has done wonders for our lifestyle.

Now, I use the vague and woefully undescriptive word "thing" to describe the Nutribullet with thoughtful deliberation, because in reality, it's not really a blender and it’s not really a juicer. David Wolfe is the creator of the Nutribullet and he calls the NutriBullet an "extractor." The problem with most juicers, see, is that you end up throwing away 90% of the nutrients from fruits and vegetables in the form of fibre. It’s because juicing “squeezes” the extract, so you end up adding fructose without the fibre. You might as well "eat" a glass of sugar.

A blender, on the other hand, retains all the nutrients and breaks down the fiber. Nutribullet's claim is that it will not only retain the nutrients, but will also break down the fibre much better than a blender will. So, it helps "unlock" the vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids (such as omega-3s) that have been trapped within the cell walls of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

I use mine for fruit as well as vegetable smoothies - the "green smoothies" that seem to have exploded in popularity of late and that, by the way, I have an amazing recipe for that doesn't taste like lawn, and that I will share with you shortly - stay tuned!

Today's smoothie combines berries, chard and seeds, which gives you a carb-free, completely balanced breakfast or snack in under 5 minutes of prep. You've given yourself a boost of Potassium, and Vitamins A and C plus, your smoothie is full of insoluble fibre from the pomegranate pith, which helps you to feel satisfied longer, helps clean your digestive tract and also helps regulate blood sugar and insulin secretion. Consider it a super detox smoothie because that's exactly what it is.

Here's what you need:

5 cubes ice
1 cup Rainbow chard
½ of a medium pomegranate, scooped out with most of the pith intact
½ cup berry mix (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
½ cup unsweetened greek yogurt to the max line

Don't squirm at the thought of chard - I've not put in a lot and honestly, you’ll barely notice and taste it (or any vegetable for that matter) as long as you get a ratio of 50% fruits with 50% vegetables.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

What I Eat for Breakfast

Hi guys,
Seems my last post caused an event in my inbox unlike one I've seen for a very long time - I had an avalanche of emails from old friends and new friends, acquaintances and strangers, mummies, non-mummies, and to my great surprise - lots of men! I'm still trying to respond to all of you, so thanks for your patience!
On a positive note, someone's reading what I'm writing (thank you!)

The question asked forty-two times (to be precise) in the various emails was one that made me smile after a while; near or far, man or woman, black, white or brown, it's amazing how alike we all think. The question I got asked more than any other was: what I eat for breakfast.
:)

So, I wanted to respond as soon as I could.
The answer, is that I eat many different things for breakfast.
Repetition bores me.
Variety and versatility excite me.
Excitement is better than boredom. Ergo, my breakfasts are creative and varied, much like the rest of my meals.

That breakfast is limited to high GI foods like toast and sugary cereals is a myth that really ought to be dispelled by now. The Kellog Company might have you believe that breakfast cereal is the healthiest way to kick-start your day, but hopefully by now we know that marketing is clever only because someone is a fool. Please don't be that fool.

I have gotten to the point where even the sight of breakfast cereal traumatises me - it's like trying to wolf down cardboard doused in sugar. The NHS considers over 15g total sugars in every 100g to be a high level. Kellogg's cornflakes run to 8g per 100g, Kellogg's Crunchy Nut cornflakes 35g. No one over the age of seven should be eating this stuff.  We are talking about breakfast here. This is not dessert.

So, what do I eat for breakfast?

Here's just one example. This might not be one for a grab-and-go, got-to-get-to-work-morning -- and I'll get to those, I promise -- but I wanted to start off with one of my favourites - so here goes!

Two fried eggs with a spinach, mushroom, jalapeño and cherry-tomato fry-up.

Here's what you need:

  • 2 eggs - I buy mine from a farm shop, rather than the supermarket - I cannot even begin to articulate the difference in taste 
  • 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 brown onion, peeled and sliced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5-6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 large handfuls of torn baby spinach leaves
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, halved, seeded and julienned
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle of lemon juice


Here's how you do it:

I'm not going to tell you how to fry an egg :)
But here's how you do the fry-up.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and sauté mushrooms for 3-4 minutes until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside.
In the same frying pan, sauté the onions until slightly translucent. Then add tomatoes, jalapeños
and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes and press tomatoes down with a spatula until smashed and the juices released.
Add the spinach at the end and stir through until the spinach is wilted. Season with a little more salt if you like and drizzle with some lemon juice right at the end.

Here's why:

This single amazing meal kick-starts your metabolism in just the right way. You've fuelled your body with protein plus your 4 (out of 5)-a day, and that's before you even get started with your day.

I cannot say enough about why eggs are such a great option for breakfast. Not only do they taste good and offer tremendous versatility in cooking options, but the protein and fat in eggs helps sustain your energy levels, keeping you fuller for much longer than that bagel or piece of toast and reducing the need to snack.

The side dish we just made? A nutritional slam-dunk! Spinach is full of vitamin K (one cup of cooked spinach yields more than 150% of your daily intake requirement), vitamins A & C and manganese. OK, Popeye is folklore, but there's no smoke without fire - Spinach is chock full of flavonoids and carotenoids – all which help to protect your body from diseases through cell signalling pathways and antioxidant effects. Add to that, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic and some healthy fats from olive oil and you've done your body a tremendous favour - all within hours of waking.

Good morning? You bet your sweet bippy!
xx






Monday, 15 June 2015

15 Carb-Free Years (and counting...)

On the 15th of the month, in the year 2015, I thought it seemed about apt to let you know.
It's true.
Every word.
Yup.
It's been 15 years since I've touched a carb. That's a decade and a half.
(I know you know that, but see, sums aren't my strong suite, so if I get the opportunity to show off a bit, I do. You know?)
But yes. 15 years.
And no, I don't mean the odd bite here and the odd taste there - everyone's occasionally allowed that. But bar nibbling on a slice of chocolate cake on my boys' birthdays (because not doing that would just be wrong), I haven't touched a carb in 15 years.
And it's been worth every last bit.

"How do you do it?" I've been asked. "I couldn't! I won't last"
"You can," I say. "And you certainly will last"

Of course, this all started in my twenties for vanity's sake. I don't mind admitting it - I wanted to look good, and I was convinced this was the path that would keep me looking toned and fit. Over a decade and two boys later, it is less about how I look on the outside (though I won't lie, that still matters), but more about how healthy I am on the inside.

People ask if I miss the carbs?
"Miss what?" I ask. "Sugar, white rice, bread and pasta?"
Nope.
No chance.

"How can you be a foodie and not eat carbs?" I'm asked.
"Because good food is not about the carbs," I say. And I believe it with every fibre of my being. Pun wholly intended. 
No, good food is a paradigm shift. A lifestyle. Good food is fresh, and flavourful and fun.
And it's not hard.
The idea is stick to what comes from the ground.
And that's what I eat. And can't get enough of.
Because it makes me feel great, outside and in.
Fitter, leaner, healthier and stronger.
I sleep better, I keep up with my boys, I make the moments count - there's more memories to be made this way.

I eat what I love. And I love what I eat.

I've made this simple summer salad for years and years (yes a decade and a half) and it's amazing every time. It's also versatile. And you know how I feel about versatility.
You don't?
Well - versatility is the bomb. It rocks my world. Without versatility I would wither away like an unwatered peony.
There.
Now you know how I feel about versatility.
Little stunners those peonies, by the way, I have some growing in my garden, each the size of my fist. Simply stunning. Just saying.

Anyway.
My salad.
Very versatile. A peony in full bloom, as it were. Fabulous all by itself or alongside some chicken or prawns.
And now is just the time for it. Long, lazy summer days - the time for my kind of food - fresh, flavourful and fun.

I'm using fresh salad greens from my garden - a combination of rocket, watercress and spinach - and flavouring it with avocados, mango, lime and coriander.
I'm throwing in some marinated chicken for a bit of protein, but as I said, you don't need it.
The twin stars of the show here are the avocado and the mango.
Which make beautiful music together. 

So...with the avocado, you want ones that are just-not-yet ripe. You know, not hard, but not sqidgy. Firm with just that tiny bit of give. Perfect.

And...mangoes.
I can barely say the word without going all loopy in the head.
You see, mangoes and me. We go way back.
I mean I'd dump my husband for a mango.
If mangoes could talk and understand my feelings.
But they can't.
So I guess I'm stuck with Sid.
Boo.

On that note, (sigh)...

Here's what you need:

4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
8 cups mixed salad greens
2 diced peeled mango
3/4 cup diced peeled avocado
Handful of coriander

I've gone slightly overboard with the mango because I'm utterly, madly, freakily in love with mango. You can hold back. If you wish.(though why you'd wish that befuddles me) (but that's cool).

For the dressing/marinade
2 tablespoons mango chutney
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

Here's how you do it:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil, lime juice, mango chutney, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl and combine well. Separately, place the chicken in a large bowl and spoon some of the dressing mixture over it, reserving the rest for the salad. Turn the pieces over to coat well, and let stand a few minutes.

Place the marinated chicken on grill rack and grill 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through and slightly charred.

To serve, arrange greens, mango, and avocado on a platter. Slice chicken crosswise into strips and place over greens. Drizzle reserved dressing all over.

And that's that.
Yum Yum in my Tum
(yes, very mature, I know, I know...)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Roasted Cod with Spring Vegetables

Well, hello.
It's been a while, but it's not been for want of want.
You know.
I mean, I've wanted to.
I always want to.
It's just that Time - yes, that pesky little fact of life - always seems to pass me by. Another day, another week, another month.
But I won't linger on the already, still, yet and no longer.
And so, here we are.

Well, Hello Yesterday.

And speaking of time, it's night time and still it's bright, my windows open to the soft air, curtains fluttering, flowers moving as if caught in a breeze...it's my favourite time of year, heralding blue cloudless skies and long, sunny days; the spring wind, warm with just that dash of chill; daffodils and rose buds and fruit and veg so fresh, it makes you want to dance in the aisles of the supermarket. Well, it makes ME want to dance, I must clarify, not YOU. You're not (necessarily) cool like that. I, on the other hand, am the reason the great Oxford Dictionary invented the word "cool."
That's not entirely true of course, but it just makes me feel good to think so.
So.
:)

Here's something else that makes me feel good - my Roasted Cod with Spring Vegetables.
I've been trying - for months now - to eat more fish. Honestly if I could get all my protein from fish, it's what I'd do. It's a top-of-the-line nutrient dense food, high in protein, high in Omega-3 fat, good for your heart, good for your brain, chock full of B-12, and iron. If you can, it would really be one of the most powerful changes you can make to your diet.
Couple that with vegetables?
You're golden.
And really, there's something very magical that happens when "vegetables" meet "roasted"...when the heat of the oven releases the natural sugars from the veg. caramelising them slowly...yum. It's just perfectly...PERFECT. Yup, perfectly perfect.
And light and healthy and colourful and seasonal.
And you can throw it together in minutes and it still looks impressive (ask me, besides being cool, I'm also the Queen of Deception, hee!)

Here's what you need:

Just go your local market, and buy what is fresh and beautiful. I've done peppers, tomatoes, olives and courgette, but you can mix it around. Asparagus works, as do mushrooms. Or squash. Or brinjal. That's the beauty of cooking good food - it's versatile, it's what YOU want it to be.

Anyway, here goes my take!

- 2 red peppers, 2 orange peppers, 2 green peppers - the small, sweet kind; deseeded and halved
- 2 red onions, cut into wedges
- LOTS of cherry tomatoes
- 4 garlic pods, skins intact
- 1 medium courgette/zucchini trimmed and cut into 2cm slices
- 4 skinless cod fillets (about 600g/1lb 5oz)
- 2-3 tsp high quality balsamic
- Handful black olives
- Small bunch basil

Heres how you do it:

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. Put the peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, garlic and onion in a large baking tray and drizzle them with some olive oil. Season with a little salt and lots of ground black pepper and toss everything together until the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Roast for 20 minutes until softened and lightly charred.

Separately, season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then take the baking tray out of the oven and make gaps in the vegetables to make space for the fish. Place the fish on the tray.

Put the tray back in the oven for another 12–15 minutes or until the fish is cooked, then chuck in the black olives, drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and throw in some fresh basil.

Gosh, this dish is so beautiful it's making my skirt fly up.
Or...is that the open window?